Pangilinan: For economy to rebound, drastic changes in govt Covid response badly needed

THE government needs drastic changes to make its Covid response competent and graft-free in order for the Philippine economy to bounce back, Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan said Wednesday.

“Competent leadership is key. Mula umpisa, sinabi na yan ng Senado. Now, we have to swiftly and effectively implement the Covid vaccination plan — fully transparent and without graft. Only then will we be able to begin our recovery,” he said.

Citing the Sydney-based Lowy Institute which scored the Philippines poor in its anti-Covid response, Pangilinan pointed out that Taiwan and Vietnam were among the countries that best addressed the pandemic.

“Hindi sila naghintay ng bakuna, maagap sila sa pagsugpo sa sakit,” he said, noting that the number of Covid cases in Taiwan is below 1,000, and its Covid-related deaths fewer than 10.

Pangilinan stressed that public confidence will not be restored if Covid response remains slow or ineffective.

“It has been a year since we had the first confirmed Covid case. We dropped the ball several times already. A year ago, our contact-tracing efforts were abysmal. Our testing took a while to really take off. Even the negotiation for supply of vaccines took several months to start,” he said.

“Mag-a-anniversary na rin ang quarantine natin sa Marso pero wala pa ring malinaw na game plan. We can only re-open the economy if public confidence is restored. Paano gagaling ang naghihingalo nating ekonomiya kung makupad pa ring kumilos at mabagal umaksyon ang mga kinauukulan?” Pangilinan said. 

The senator, whose resolution prompted the convening of the Senate Committee of the Whole to probe the country’s Covid vaccination plan, calls on the government to step up on its Covid response.

“Sabi nga nila, magastos ang incompetence. And this time we’re paying the price figuratively and literally. Bilyon-bilyon na ang utang natin. Milyon-milyon na ang nawalan ng trabaho at bumaba ang kita. Milyon-milyon din ang nagugutom. How much longer do we have to wait for the arrival of vaccines when we’re averaging over 50 deaths a day?” Pangilinan said.

“Kung maayos simula’t simula pa ang pagtugon natin sa Covid, di tayo kulelat. The government needs to step up, clear its deliverables, and perform better,” he added.

The government recently approved IATF Resolution No. 95 or the Philippine National Deployment and Vaccination Plan for Covid-19 Vaccines” dated Tuesday, January 26.

A P82.5-billion budget has been allocated to fund the Covid-19 vaccine deployment program.

As of February 2, the Philippines has logged 528,853 cases of Covid-19, with 10,874 reported deaths.